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Tickets on sale for cemetery tour

COVINGTON - Voices from the past will be heard once again on Oct. 15, when the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce hosts a tour of the historic City of Covington Cemetery.

Tickets are on sale now for the guided walking tour, which will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the cemetery, located off Conyers Street.

It is being called Voices of the Past by organizers because it will feature costumed tour guides telling the stories of residents from long ago.

"Some may have some notoriety, some are common folks ... Each one has a story to tell," said Monty Laster of the Newton County Cemetery Committee.

Among the nine historic characters to be portrayed are a woman who lived to be 100 who will tell of living through many presidents and wars and a local preacher who served in the pulpit for more than 50 years.

"All these people were here and active in this community. They were our forefathers that built our community," Laster said.

Other noteworthy gravesites, such as that of Revolutionary War soldier Robert Pullen, will also be featured. Pullen's marker bears one of the oldest birth dates among the 3,800 graves in the cemetery.

Dr. George Lonberger, a sociology and geology professor at Georgia Perimeter College, will serve as a tour guide and will point out the symbolism of some of the markers.

For example, anchors are depicted on many of the markers, prompting some of Lonberger's students to assume there are many sailors buried in the cemetery. But in fact, the anchors represent Jesus as stability in the troubled sea of life, he said.

"My feeling is that (the cemetery) is a very important cultural artifact. You can understand a lot about how the 19th century mind worked, how society worked then. They were very religious people. They wore it right on their sleeves," he said.

"We spend a lot of time driving right by things where we can learn about what the past was like. Here is this beautiful cemetery with all this symbolism and people don't go there," he added.

Laster said he hopes the tour will change that.

"We hope this will stimulate a lot of interest in the cemeteries, not only for a moneymaker but for educational value," Laster said, adding organizers hope to make the tour an annual event.

Tickets for the tour are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Proceeds will benefit the proposed Miracle Field and the Newton County History Center, a museum that will be located in the old jail on Stallings Street.

Tickets must be purchased from the Covington/Newton County Visitor's Center and will not be available the night of the tour. The Visitor's Center is located at 2101 Clark St. in Covington. Call 770-787-3868 for more information.

Tours will leave in 15 minute increments and will each last about one hour.

Golf carts are available for those who are unable to walk the route.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.